New golf world tour with huge purse in the works

LONDON • A new global golf circuit is being planned, multiple sources have confirmed to Reuters, in what would be the biggest upheaval in the professional game in decades.

To be named the World Golf Series, the circuit proposed by the British-based World Golf Group has been in the planning stages for more than a year.

The group hopes to stage 15 to 20 yearly tournaments around the world, each offering a purse of close to US$20 million (S$26.8 million), according to sources familiar with the plans.

Such a figure would dwarf the prize money currently available on the game's richest circuit, the US PGA Tour, whose biggest purse this season is US$11 million.

Several blue-chip sponsors are believed to be on board for the World Golf Series if top players can be signed.

Organisers, however, are reluctant to release details while they are still in the sensitive negotiation phase with agents, players, sponsors and television companies.

"It would not be appropriate to make a comment at this time," the World Golf Group, whose chief commercial officer is Richard Marsh, said in an e-mail to Reuters.

A leading player says he and other top professionals are aware of the proposal.

"Why would you not be interested - 18 tournaments for US$20 million?" the player said on condition of anonymity.

But the new Tour faces major hurdles, not least that it is likely to meet staunch opposition from the PGA Tour, which will hardly be pleased by the prospect of a rival circuit siphoning off its best and most marketable talent.

The new Tour is also unlikely to be sanctioned for world ranking points, which could on its own make it a non-starter.

Ranking points are used to determine eligibility for the four Major championships, which are not run by the PGA Tour.

Player contracts are also dependent on their world ranking.

"Every player's deal is centred around world ranking points," leading British agent Andrew "Chubby" Chandler, who is aware of the proposed World Golf Series, said.

"This series will never get world ranking points, so it will cost people money in the end. I think there are a lot of obstacles to get over.

"The cards are stacked against them if they don't get six of the world's top 10 players to sign up."

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 23, 2018, with the headline 'New golf world tour with huge purse in the works'. Print Edition | Subscribe